Before the 2013 season, the Louisiana Tech football team made a drastic uniform switch, changing the T on the helmet from white to red. Like with the hill, many Tech fans hated the change. The main argument against the change to a Red T was that it was harder to distinguish on TV. This post, however, will focus on one thing:
Which color T on the helmet will give you a better record?
So basically, will we win more games with the helmet on the left, or the helmet on the right?
Of course, the main helmet that Tech uses now is the white helmet with the Red T, but that didn’t stop some people from complaining about the color of the T anyway:
— Michael Stephens (@coolhandclyde) December 15, 2015
Do fans have a right to be upset about a Red T? Our constitutional lawyers tell us yes, but what if the AD Tommy McClelland made the change with one thing in mind: improving the team on the field. Was the color change a strategic one rather than an aesthetic one?
Also, the picture that the tweet is responding shows the white helmet in use. So, if this fan’s request were to be fulfilled, the helmet would look like this:
Not exactly an improvement.
Temple, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State
What do these three schools have in common? They all primarily use two different helmets, one with a Red T on it, and one with a White T on it.
This means that we can look at this past 2016 season and see if these teams did better when they wore a helmet with a Red T or a White T. I went and found highlights of all the games these teams played in 2016 to see what helmet they wore. Here is the data:
The records are about the same, but the Average Points For is much higher with a Red T on the helmet. So maybe the administration was on to something when it made the switch. The sample size is too small for these three schools to show the entire picture, so we need to look at every FBS school that has a Red or White T on their helmet.
There are 10 FBS schools that used a variation of their helmet last year that included a white T, including the three from earlier.
The use of the White T helmet varies from school to school. Georgia Tech used this helmet in all 13 games it played in this year, while Tulane only used this helmet twice. But how did these programs perform?
There are only five schools that use a helmet with Red T on it, which makes sense. Unlike white, red is not a neutral color that can be used with practically any team.
Here, the White T has the definite record advantage. But as we saw above, the teams with a red helmet possess a more potent offense, at the expense of the defense.
It seems that switching to a Red T may not have been the right decision. But before I conclude that Tech should go back to the White T, we should look at one more color.
What if we used a Blue T? It is a school color after all. A Blue T with a red state would not be allowed, but a Blue T with a blue state would be officially allowable by the University Communication department.
It wouldn’t be my favorite helmet, but would it help the team win?
MTSU and Tulsa have a lot of different Blue T helmets they used over the year, but it doesn’t seem to give them an advantage over having a different color T. Opposing teams score more points against Blue Ts than the Red or White Ts, and Red Ts score more on offense than the Blue Ts. The Blue T record is better than the Red T, but the White T still has the best record out of all three.
It is obvious that the best thing that Tech could do would be to go back to the White T. We have accomplished success with the Red T, but both National Champions that Tech has won were with the White T, so I think the answer should be obvious.
At the same time, however, it is hard to argue how successful offenses seem to be with a Red T. My ultimate suggestion is to have two different helmets in the same game. The offense wears Red Ts and defense wears White Ts, thereby obtaining the best of both worlds.
This violates NCAA rule 1-4-a-2, but I recommend Tech officially petition the NCAA to change the rule so that Louisiana Tech can win more football games.